Skip

Seen any St***n S***rb**gh films lately?
September 17, 2002 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Seen any St***n S***rb**gh films lately?

CleanFlicks, a Utah (US) based company, is using digital editing to "clean up" popular films by removing the sex, nudity, profanity and extreme violence (for example, the edited natural born killers runs approx. 2.5 minutes, while the CF version of Resevoir Dogs is titles and credits only). Recently the Colorado licensee of Cleanflicks got wind of a potential lawsuit by the Directors Guild of America. Deciding not to wait for this to even get off the ground, Cleanflicks has decided to sue 16 of the directors that are apparently most offensive to them.
posted by i blame your mother (116 comments total)

 
Hey, while we're at it, let's clean up Michelangelo's David by hacking off his penis. Oh wait! Better yet, let's sue Michelangelo.
posted by drinkcoffee at 8:54 AM on September 17, 2002


What a bunch of deluded fools. Nothing makes for a great day, like waking up to the latest adventures of the Moral Puritan Movement.
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:00 AM on September 17, 2002


since there's an obvious market for cleaned up versions, the studios would be smarter to offer their own sanitized versions rather than getting in a litigious derivative works fight. that way they could make money both with the "dirty" and the "clean".
posted by zoopraxiscope at 9:04 AM on September 17, 2002


Well, they are entitled to their Moral Puritan ways, everyone is. They are even entitled to edit movies for their own enjoyment. They are not allowed to distribute edited (without the maker's consent) movies to the public for profit. I wouldn't think of this so much about censorship, as about copyrightership. (is that a word)

If I was a filmmaker, I would be taken aback if someone edited gratuitous violence and sex into my already finished product. I would also feel the same if the reverse was true and someone edited out scenes without my permission.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:05 AM on September 17, 2002


[obvious joke alert]
Hey, I'd use a company called Dirty Flicks, who'd cut out all the boring bits. Like in Scarface, all that dialogue... An all Joe Pesci version of Casino. Sweet.
[/obvious joke alert]
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:06 AM on September 17, 2002


You're missing the point, drinkcoffee... there is a demand for PG/PG-13 versions of many popular R films by families that enjoy movies, but would rather not bring certain material into their homes. Moreover, there's nothing wrong with parents choosing to censor what comes into their homes (the First Amendment Fetishists should be happy -- they've long said that government should get out of the censorship business, and let parents do the job themselves).

CleanFlicks started out as a service of a local video rental outlet that would take movies that you had previously bought and edit them for a nominal fee... mostly it was in response to block busters like Titanic that were "great" movies (or at the least "popular") but had one or two objectionable scenes.

The irony of all of this is that the directors are crying foul, when their films are edited for all sorts of audiences (especially non-US ones) for the same content that CleanFlicks makes bank editing-out for an American audience that is being denied what other audiences are getting elsewhere.

Add to this that DVDs were long-promised by industry-types to offer alternatively rated versions of the same film -- a promise that has completely fallen on its face despite high demand from folks willing to pay for the feature.

*sigh*

As for this being some puritan movement, wake up. This is a small company that is meeting the needs of a niche market. Hardly something worth frothing over.
posted by silusGROK at 9:07 AM on September 17, 2002


Lord Chancellor... the movies in question already exist in edited formats for varying market tastes around the world. So the directors have little to stand on vis a vis an artistic integrity stand-point. As for the copyright, well they've won all previous legal attacks -- mostly from a fair use stand point.
posted by silusGROK at 9:09 AM on September 17, 2002


I was offended when they replaced "terrorist" with "hippy" in E.T. and that was the director's idea. I mean it's his movie. He has the right to butcher his own work if he so chooses, but cleaning up movies to take out something that one finds personally offensive is like rewriting history so that it elevates one regime's agenda over another, and neither should be tolerated in a democratic society.

Of course it DOES happen all the time, but that doesn't make it any more or less right. ...I say we tar & feather these cleanflickers.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:10 AM on September 17, 2002


You don't have a first amendment right to create a derivative work of a copyrighted work -- and especially not to make a derivative work and rent it out for profit. (I.e., no way does this look like fair use.) If these good folks are so offended by mainstream films, they should rent ones that are better suited to their taste.

Vis10n: You make compelling arguments for why their should be G-rated versions of all films, but that doesn't go to the legal issue. If you "make bank" off of someone else's protected work without their permission, you're infringing their copyrights regardless of whether the market demands it or "industry types" promised to satisfy that demand. And since it's a short leap from cleanflicks to Blockbuster (if the plaintiffs won, for some reason) it's definitely worth discussing.
posted by subgenius at 9:18 AM on September 17, 2002


I completely understand that CleanFlicks has the right to make money off of butchering artwork for people who want that sort of thing. Fine. Just get the artist's permission first. As a lover of film and music, I am OK with seeing/hearing alternate versions for my own pleasure, which is why I love CDRs and DVDs. I'm not going to go selling them to people, though. And it burns me when I end up seeing an alternate verison of a film that I didn't intend/want to see. Many newer DVDs contain cleaned up versions of the theatrically released films, and the buyer is not informed. Two examples: both Lynch's Mulholland Drive and Tarantino's Jackie Brown omit or cover over nudity that existed in the film when it was released in the theater. Film lovers who think the DVD most closely represents the theatrical experience are getting shafted. It pisses me off! And I'm all for parents censoring what their children see (I'm a parent myself), but if you don't want your kids watching Titanic because of some stray nipple, then don't show it to them. Sanitization of art is twisted and wrong.
posted by drinkcoffee at 9:19 AM on September 17, 2002


i am disgusted that one group feels it is moral enough to decide what to keep and what to cut. i am curious as to see how much they did cut out, and how the movies flow without their "vices".
the code was stupid, but the golden age came about because of it...
perhaps someone who watches movies might have a better opinion.
posted by the aloha at 9:21 AM on September 17, 2002


niche market, my ass. I hate edited-for-TV movies more than any half-assed family-friendly sitcom out there. This is a movement by a bunch of people who want to get involved in the cultural mainstream without tarnishing themselves by admitting they might like explosions, naughty language, and sex. Little Timmy HAS to be with the cool kids by seeing "XXX," but only if we can show it to him as "G." Please. If you're going to be a whore to consumer culture you're not allowed to pick the outfit the pimps give you.

I remember going to the theater to see "The Rock" and saw a mother bringing her 6-year old. In the midst of the poignant and ("I like that it was well edited"- Dave Foley) truly necessary scene of Nicholas cage fucking his girlfriend as she sat in a chair on top of their roof, I couldn't help but think to myself "you know, lady, it's a goddamn R movie. Whatkind of idiot are you?"

Awesome idea of force-feeding someone a ball filled with napalm aside, I hated that movie. But that doesn't give me the right to make an edited version the way I want it. And it certainly doesn't give that mother the right to complain about the content she willingly chose to expose her child to under the ignorant guise of shitty parenting.

This is the same thing as the Star Wars losers who all went post-coital about a "fan edit" of Episode I where all the scenes with Jar-Jar were cut. Yeah, it fit a niche market: assholes.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:21 AM on September 17, 2002


The Rookie was rated G, for godsakes, what on earth could have been edited out? They went after The Iron Giant too?

Yes, CleanFlicks shouldn't distribute this stuff without the Director's consent. They are breaking the law. Yes, directors should pull the pre-emptive strike by releasing "clean" versions at the same time as the "dirty" versions (as zoopraxiscope mentions above). There is obviously a market for it--don't they want the money?

(on preview, what subgenius said!)
posted by whatnot at 9:21 AM on September 17, 2002


We wouldn't be having this discussion if we were talking about books instead of movies.

If the article said that schools were cutting out portions of books that they found offensive to students, there would be talk of Nazi Germany and Fahrenheit 451°.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:23 AM on September 17, 2002


Thrill to Pasolini's 12 Seconds of Sodom!
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:23 AM on September 17, 2002


I tend to view this sort of thing (editing for content for whatever reason) in the same puritan sort of way I view pan & scan DVD (which is not at all, if possible, but I digress): you're not seeing the same movie, and I don't see the point in watching something if you're not prepared to view it the way it was intended to be seen by its creators. Now there's certainly an argument to be made that unless a director has final cut privileges on a film, you're not seeing his/her vision anyway, but that's a separate argument. If you don't want to see the movie/painting/statue/what have you the way the artist intended for it to be seen, then go look at something else. There's plenty of g-rated material out there, there's no reason for CleanFlicks, Blockbuster or any other censor (including the MPAA) to mess around with art works. It's no different than defacing statues with fig leaves.

On preview: subgenius and drinkcoffee make good points.
posted by biscotti at 9:23 AM on September 17, 2002


Vis10n, you're missing one key element here.

Movies are edited for overseas release BY THE STUDIO, for studio releases abroad. This small company is creating derivative works and selling/renting them for profit. The studios have every right to cry foul.

I know most music labels release "clean" versions of things like hip hop records, but if some joe blow in Utah wanted to release a cleaned up version of Eminem's latest, I don't see how that could possibly be legal (taking someone else's copyrighted work to make a near copy derivative work).

The studios are fully in the right here.
posted by mathowie at 9:33 AM on September 17, 2002


I'm assuming that CleanFlicks only rents out the movies it has changed. Any licences which need to have been paid for will probably have been paid.

With this in mind, I don't really see the problem with this. OK, the studios can talk about Artistic Integrity, etc, but this doesn't stop them making/allowing edited versions of films for foreign markets. You can bet that the Director of The Rock didn't make any cuts for the Chinese Version of his/her film. It's likely that the Director of The Rock didn't even see this version.

I say - what's the difference. People who want to see a specific film without the nudity/violence get to see it, and the studios get to make a bit more money.
posted by seanyboy at 9:34 AM on September 17, 2002


Why would you watch an edited movie? If the movie treads on shaky ground -- as far as your morals, of those of your parents are concerned -- then would you not be better off, avoiding the movie?

If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:36 AM on September 17, 2002


kafkaesque, that was brilliant. i should do something to you for it. (waits a few seconds) but i could never do anything to someone with such a nice toosh.
posted by the aloha at 9:36 AM on September 17, 2002


On the contrary, since as Vis10n and seanyboy point out, the studios already release G-rated versions of their movies for use on airlines, TV, etc., it's hard to see how CleanFlicks have a leg to stand on legally. They should either license studio-approved "clean" cuts for rental, or stick to dealing in movies that are originally G-rated. Fair use definitely does not include altering a copyright product and marketing it.
posted by Raya at 9:38 AM on September 17, 2002


What if the edits change the whole thrust of the film, seanyboy? I remember reading an article about how airlines edited the final scene of The Crying Game, because it was offensive. It also made the movie totally incomprehensible and meaningless. If you drastically hack a film up, you're bound to lose key elements of plot and theme.

The director has every right to be upset, because the audience wouldn't be seeing his film at all. The film is what it is. To take out what you object to is to make an entirely new film, because every moment that was in the original release defines the film.

Except 13 Ghosts. They can go ahead and hack that one up.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:39 AM on September 17, 2002


The Crying Game could only be improved by taking out the key "surprise ending" that everyone so so feverish about "keeping secret"! What a brilliant, David-Lynch-ian move on the airlines' part!!
posted by Raya at 9:41 AM on September 17, 2002


huh? in this case the watching of "clean" versions by a small segment of the populace in *no way* prevents you from watching the unabridged version. Now; if we're talking about groups of people (like, producers, uh, or something) stopping certain cuts from hitting the screen -- well, they can't take away *my* sex and violence, and i'm all for outrage. But hey, if they just want to close their eyes at appropriate interludes, i have *absolutely* no problem with that.

And if you do, stop renting videos at Blockbuster. That's right -- you, stop it!

anyhow, i'm sure they could've set up a system where the renters are considered a private club of some sort, and, thus, legally, aren't "the public" -- I mean, they've got enough experience in Utah with the bars and all.

(anyhow, man, some of you guys have some choosy politics: WE HATE HOLLYWOOD!, WAIT, NO, WE LOVE HOLLYWOOD! WE HATE COPYRIGHT, WAIT NO, COPYRIGHT IS GOOD! I'm really confused; maybe you just dislike the other.)
posted by fishfucker at 9:44 AM on September 17, 2002


This small company is creating derivative works and selling/renting them for profit. This is the most important point I think. Does CleanFlicks sell altered copies of films without buying the same number from the wholesaler? If so, then this is clearly piracy, and I'm guessing that they don't have a leg to stand on.
posted by seanyboy at 9:44 AM on September 17, 2002


what was the suprise ending?
posted by tolkhan at 9:45 AM on September 17, 2002


I think I'm going to start editing the bible in my spare time. Too much torture, rape and murder.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:45 AM on September 17, 2002


This is bullshit! A movie is a complete entity and it shouldn't be tampered with. You (or the studio, or anybody - except the director) shouldn't cut it up to make it fit the TV-screen, shouldn't substitute the actors' voices because they speak in a foreign language, you shouldn't add or delete scenes just because you fancy it.

A movie is a movie and it's a work of art! If you don't like it, don't watch it!
posted by cx at 9:49 AM on September 17, 2002


"We think a jury will want to agree with us, that you shouldn't be required to watch what you find objectionable." -- Huntsman

Oh, I didn't know that in America you were required to go out and rent movies and then take them home and watch them. Is that some sort of new law?
posted by jon_kill at 9:50 AM on September 17, 2002


the "works of art" argument is kind of not relevant here, isn't it? isn't this purely a copyright matter?
posted by tolkhan at 9:51 AM on September 17, 2002


What if the edits change the whole thrust of the film, seanyboy Like a studio has never done this to a film before without the directors permission.

Sarcasm aside. It's a good point. If I made a film pushing a particular moral view, and somebody changed that view then sold it under its original name, then I'd be really angry.

It reminds me of the quotes they put on film billboards where the reviewer says something like "never ever watch this fim", and the billboard copy says "...watch this film".

I don't know. What I'd like to see is Clean Flicks making the changes, then the studios giving them a once over for approval. I'd also like to see a notice on the DVD saying that the copy is a "Clean Flicks" cut, and certain themes pertenant to the original film may have been changed.

I'm guessing that the studios wouldn't agree to that though.
posted by seanyboy at 9:52 AM on September 17, 2002


I wince at the close proximity of 'artistic integrity" and "hollywood" in many of these arguments.

If you look at the films they are editing, most of them are crap anyway.

I just don't understand the sheer outrage expressed in these comments. It displays a sort of inverted self-righteousness that I find every bit as annoying as its opposite.

NOBODY is being forced to watch R movies, and nobody is being FORCED to rent edited versions. Everyone is getting paid.

Also, oddly, nobody has mentioned the countless times that shit has been put into movies at the studio's request in order to get the R rating or shift the viewing demographic.

Someone wrote earlier: about a "truly necessary scene of Nicholas cage fucking his girlfriend"

Is it just me? Or have similar scenes become more and more necessary over the past decade? It must be a glorious renaissance of artistic integrity that we're witnessing. Yippee.

I saw most of the The Rock on TeeVee, and I don't remember thinking to myself, "Odd, there's a strange void in the plot...if only there was a scene of Cage and his girlfriend doin' it in a chair..." Also, it just wasn't that great of a movie. I bet you really liked Con Air too.

Give me a break.

Everyone is getting paid, and ultimately, that is what Hollywood is about.
posted by mecran01 at 9:52 AM on September 17, 2002


anyhow, man, some of you guys have some choosy politics: WE HATE HOLLYWOOD!, WAIT, NO, WE LOVE HOLLYWOOD! WE HATE COPYRIGHT, WAIT NO, COPYRIGHT IS GOOD! I'm really confused; maybe you just dislike the other

How does liking or not liking Hollywood have anything to do with supporting the the filmmakers that made the films? I don't get it.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:53 AM on September 17, 2002


eyeballkid: There are plenty of edited versions of the bible. (like childrens versions, etc) In fact, I'd go as far as to say that all versions of the Bible are edited version.
posted by seanyboy at 9:53 AM on September 17, 2002


anyhow, man, some of you guys have some choosy politics: WE HATE HOLLYWOOD!, WAIT, NO, WE LOVE HOLLYWOOD!

I still hate hollywood and think copyright is overreaching, but the current system of laws are the current system of laws, and under those laws, it sounds like the studios are right (even though - again, I'm not a fan of them).
posted by mathowie at 9:55 AM on September 17, 2002


The real problem here isn't artistic integrity or copyright, although that will be the (successful) basis of the DGA lawsuit and the reason the CleanFlicks suit will be tossed.

The studios are upset because someone else is making money editing their films, pure and simple. They underestimated the market for this sort of product (airlines and sanitized networks they expected; parents wanting to show "Seven" to their 5 year olds they didn't). Now they have to stop unauthorized editing (read: no profit for studios) before they can turn around and provide the same service themselves, at twice the price.

If Hollywood was getting the money, they'd have no problem with this.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:55 AM on September 17, 2002


i completely agree with the argument that says only the filmmakers should edit their own works - no outside source should have the authority to modify someone else's art.

the example of "The Rock" that XQUZYPHYR provided, however, does raise the issue of those films which merely contain a degree of sex or violence merely to appease the mass audience's demand for it. in other words, why was it necessary to show nicholas cage and vanessa marcil having sex? it was clearly not critical to the plot, and certainly any decent director can find a less graphic way to depict two characters' love for each other. so what does it really hurt to simply remove it?

another example is the very gory vice scene from "Casino". apparently, Scorsese intentionally and sacrificially included it just for the purpose of downgrading other violent scenes in the movie, hoping the MPAA would concentrate on cutting this sole scene and leave the others untouched. very smart of Scorsese, but also an illustration of the non-necessity of certain offensive content as it pertains to a storyline.

p.s. did these Clean Flicks people prevent their children from watching any TV regarding 9-11 for the entire past year? after all, there's not much movie violence out there that compares with real-life footage of people jumping to their deaths from the Towers. but that's a whole other debate....
posted by adamms222 at 9:59 AM on September 17, 2002


Back in the old days, story tellers would hear stories, maybe change them, and tell them to other people. Nobody complained, and the cultural variety that is our heritage is testament to the fact that this is a good thing. If there was only one Flood myth, if there was only one version of Red Riding Hood, if Beowolf wasn't being constantly updated, then the world would be a poorer place. To me, this is no different to Slash Fiction, and as the studios are being paid (I think), I can't see how it can matter.
posted by seanyboy at 9:59 AM on September 17, 2002


They don't call it bowdlerizing for nothing. In the 19th century Thomas Bowdler became (in)famous for doing the same thing to Shakespeare. Later generations made his name a synonym for censorship, but his edition was a commercial success at the time.

The lawsuit is pretty poor, but I'm usually all about people watching what they want. Reminds me of colorization. I thought that was like spray painting the Mona Lisa, too, but to a certain extent, if people want to be tasteless, that's their right--as long as the rest of us can still conveniently watch the movies as they were originally made.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:04 AM on September 17, 2002


mecran01: If you look at the films they are editing, most of them are crap anyway.

So now the quality of a film affects its existence as a work of art?

GhostintheMachine: If Hollywood was getting the money, they'd have no problem with this.

I'm sure if CleanFlicks had financed the creation, advertising and distribution of the films they are butchering, they'd feel the same way. Hollywood, or, to move away from generalizations, the studios that financed these films and the artists that created them are, and should be, ultimately responsible for their representation, not some religiously offended video store clerks.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:04 AM on September 17, 2002


The portrayal of "Clean Flicks people" as furiously puritanical, slack-jawed bible-thumpers who fear the world is probably less than totally accurate.

I rented an edited version of "The Insider" from a copycat place called "clean cuts." I was not left with an unmet craving for the F-bomb at the end of the film. Sorry.
posted by mecran01 at 10:05 AM on September 17, 2002


i completely agree with the argument that says only the filmmakers should edit their own works

ha. read a studio contract sometime--there are few directors who swing enough weight to even have legal control over the final cut of a film for release, let alone what the studio decides to do with a work in later years.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 10:05 AM on September 17, 2002


yeah - Here's What would Happen if the Sopranos was on PAX tv. FUNNY!!
posted by mikepet at 10:09 AM on September 17, 2002


If there was only one Flood myth, if there was only one version of Red Riding Hood, if Beowolf wasn't being constantly updated, then the world would be a poorer place.

It's not the same thing at all. If someone is telling their own story or myth, that they created, and someone else is standing next to them yelling "LALALALALA!" whenever the teller gets to the juicy parts, that would be approaching what is going on.

The storytelling tradition you allude to seems to me to be more akin to remakes of films, which keep the same story line but are a new creation of a different filmmaker. Those do not change the original, but offer a different interpretation. Maybe these CleanFlicks guys should rent some warehouse space and make their own version of Resevoir Dogs.

In other words, by editing the original, and subtracting parts of the whole, you end up with less. You in no way add to the work of art.

And that's my last comment in this thread. Sorry to have monopolized.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:09 AM on September 17, 2002


While I would never patronize Cleanflicks, I hope they win their case.

A victory for Cleanflicks will be a victory for all of us who are concerned about the future of fair use.
posted by pandaharma at 10:13 AM on September 17, 2002


anyhow, man, some of you guys have some choosy politics: WE HATE HOLLYWOOD!, WAIT, NO, WE LOVE HOLLYWOOD! WE HATE COPYRIGHT, WAIT NO, COPYRIGHT IS GOOD! I'm really confused; maybe you just dislike the other

How does liking or not liking Hollywood have anything to do with supporting the the filmmakers that made the films? I don't get it.


i don't know. that was some unnecessary hyperbole i added to, uh, add unnecessary hyperbole. thus the small. anyways, i guess my point was along the lines of the fact that mefi seems to occaisionally lean towards a slashdot mindset, where groupthink is such the norm that it's impossible to accept that people could want or desire different things (to use a slashdot example, wanting, and liking, to run Windows over Linux.) If only i could've phrased it better, as mecran01 did: "I just don't understand the sheer outrage expressed in these comments. It displays a sort of inverted self-righteousness that I find every bit as annoying as its opposite. "

alas, i'm no wordsmith. also: this is why i try to stay out of controversial threads -- because i'm an idiot -- unfortunately, this morning, my fingers were faster than my brain. i blame too much sleep.

posted by fishfucker at 10:14 AM on September 17, 2002


Sometimes subtraction improves the orginal work. The Phantom Edit comes to mind.
posted by pandaharma at 10:15 AM on September 17, 2002


The storytelling tradition you allude to seems to me to be more akin to remakes of films. I don't know that much about it. My understanding is that stories were learnt Varbatim, and then changed slightly depending on the current climate. There were a number of rewrites (Sanatised Edwardian versions of Red Riding Hood), and I'd agree that this is different, but most of the time, stories changed a bit at a time.
posted by seanyboy at 10:18 AM on September 17, 2002


A victory for Cleanflicks will be a victory for all of us who are concerned about the future of fair use.

Umm, why? this is obviously packaging someone else's work that's been cut, masked, or ADR'd with nothing added to it. I really don't see how fair use is involved in the least.
posted by tj at 10:26 AM on September 17, 2002


My word, folks!

The only person so far that's made a point that isn't somehow missing the mark is XQUZYPHYR (whose username is a real pain, by the way). You're right, XQUZYPHYR: CleanFlicks clearly caters to a market that wants to have their cake and eat it, too. I can't defend that.

[tangent]
I realize that movies comprise a lion's share of the public metaphor space, and that folks that choose not to see popular movies (for whatever reason) find it more difficult to live in that metaphor space -- which is why (at least at a sub-conscious level) I think that these folks find so many of these movies alluring. Of course, all of this is anecdotal: that's the allure for me -- I want to see movies that contain some content I find objectionable, because it makes public discourse easier.

Anyway, I'm on a tangent... let me get back to the points:
[/tangent]

I think the error of most of the posters so far is one of mixing issues.

I see the CleanFlicks situation as touching on a number of issues -- issues which I find mostly non-related, and issues which I think are largely covered, which is why I think y'all are missing the point.

Censorship: The only censorship that really concerns me in any holistic fashion is government enforced censorship. Other forms of censorship are generally community-based. If I have a problem with such censorship, it's normally a problem with errors in reasoning (e.g. folks that have problems with Huckleberry Finn, thinking that it's racist). To me, censorship is a natural (and needed) part of living in a social network -- see Neal Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death for an extended argument on the matter.

On this wise, I think all the crying wolf about CleanFlicks censoring films is hogwash: in this case, CleanFlicks is an agent of the parents who are censoring what is shown in their homes -- a perfectly acceptable parental prerogative.

Artistic Integrity: Although I don't have the data to back this up, my understanding is that every major studio edits movies to address audience issues found in various locales. The "artistic vision" is apparently not as important as the industry would have us believe.

Aside from the editing probably not being as smooth as it would be if it were done by the studios CleanFlicks appears to be in the clear.

Copyright: I have serious misgivings about current American interpretation of copyright -- and considering the popularity of the issue here at MeFi, I'd guess that I wasn't alone. That said, I don't understand how folks having a product they've already purchased edited is an infringement of copyright! You groan over the RIAA trying to decide what you do with your CDs post-purchase... problem here, is that CDs is _you_ and movies is _them_ -- a socially conservative "them" to boot.

I'm not a lawyer -- and I don't know all the particulars of CF's process, as I'm not a patron -- but a number of courts have already decided that the way CF works their voodoo is legal. I'm betting CF will continue to beat this issue.

Duplicity: This is the issue that XQUZYPHYR aptly raises, and is the only one from my vantage that has any merit. Of course, no one here (aside from me), is a member of this community... so y'all have little space to judge it by it's own standards -- the only way to really claim that so-and-so is being duplicitous... so the only issue that has any merit isn't really one that can effectually be addressed by _this_ community.

That said, the industry could easily handle this whole mess -- while making bank -- by fulfilling their promises to include alternatively-rated versions of films on DVD, and by (perhaps) offering edited versions of films to niche markets -- we've got "art houses" ... why not family theatres that offer edited versions of films in general cinema rotation?
posted by silusGROK at 10:29 AM on September 17, 2002


*grrr*

Thread didn't wait for me to write that up.
posted by silusGROK at 10:30 AM on September 17, 2002


At first glance this looked like a Reader's Digest wholly owned subsidiary. Then I saw the state where this company is located.
Anyone taking bets on the particular church this company/these folks are affiliated with? Not exactly people overly concerned with laws when it comes to their religious mandates.
Look for them to clean up all the teeth of the actors to a nice white mouth full and encourage the consumption of ice cream and good wholesome family fun! Like, say, polygamy involving very young girls!
posted by nofundy at 10:32 AM on September 17, 2002


I really don't see how fair use is involved in the least.

well, fair use dictates that you can buy a copy of something, and make your own edits. That's entirely legal.

Selling it or renting it creates a slightly thorny issue. Do video stores sign agreements when becoming distributors saying explicitly they can not modify the works?

Also, if this company offers 20 copies of Harry Potter cleaned up, did they buy 20 rental copies and edit each one, or make 19 additional copies of their one edit? Legally, that's another potential problem.
posted by mathowie at 10:39 AM on September 17, 2002


Another thought: how is a parent using CleanFlicks to edit pre-packaged mass media different from someone using TiVo to skip commercials?

I don't see a difference... and the tub-thumping of the RIAA-hating, TiVo-loving folks here is disappointing.
posted by silusGROK at 10:45 AM on September 17, 2002


(Nice, salient point nofundy... you rock!)
posted by silusGROK at 10:47 AM on September 17, 2002


For what it's worth, describing this as a lawsuit filed by CleanFlicks "against" the 16 directors, while technically accurate, is a bit misleading. CleanFlicks has filed what is called a "declaratory judgment" action, which is just a way for a party to file a suit seeking to have a court declare that what they are doing is legal. It's just the flip side of the usual case, where the plaintiff files suit claiming that the defendant is doing something illegal. It's not as if CleanFlicks is seeking damages from the directors.

Also, on preview, nice gratuitous slam of the entire Mormon faith, nofundy. Never mind that the church has officially banned polygamy for years. Funny how people feel free to make all kinds of snide comments about Mormons, but all hell breaks loose if you criticize radical Muslims.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:48 AM on September 17, 2002


Mathowie... my understanding of the process is this: CleanFlicks doesn't rent the movies. When you want to use CleanFlicks' services, you joing a co-operative that owns a set number of movies that have been edited. You don't "rent" a movie... you check it out.

Anyway, that's just my understanding... but again, regardless of my understanding of the voodoo, a number of courts have already up-held the process.

I can't speak about the merits of their current suit against the directors guild.
posted by silusGROK at 10:50 AM on September 17, 2002


how is a parent using CleanFlicks to edit pre-packaged mass media different from someone using TiVo to skip commercials?

Maybe it's hairsplitting, but when a user of TiVo takes an active role to cut commercials, and it's not TiVo the company removing them, I see a difference.

If there was a product called CleanTiVo that had one new button on the remote, that blacked out the screen and muted the volume while pressed, allowing parents to edit their own recordings, I'd see no difference and have no problem with it.

But TiVo recording things automatically free of objectionable content? That's a noodle scratcher.

In terms of fair use, the problems this case raises are moving it from the personal tape editing service (which is totally legal and fine) to the rental of tapes en masse.

In the TiVo analogy, it's moving from participatory, end user editing to a paid service that cleans television for all, without any agreements with the original distributors.

I don't see a difference... and the tub-thumping of the RIAA-hating, TiVo-loving folks here is disappointing.

I'll concede that I came off too strong to begin with, and after reconsidering the issue, it sounds like the company may have a chance, depending on the letter of the law of legal agreements between studios and rental shops.

I'm all for free use and relaxed copyright, of which this case involves. In my fantasy world, this type of derivative work would be fine, even though I would never be a customer of theirs, but with the current system of laws, they may be in the wrong.

I would agree with your statement here and ask that people question their beliefs on issues, based solely on issues and not the people involved here, especially when the use is somewhat objectionable.
posted by mathowie at 10:56 AM on September 17, 2002


Another thought: how is a parent using CleanFlicks to edit pre-packaged mass media different from someone using TiVo to skip commercials?

Wha? TV commercials aren't integral to the plot of any movie or TV show. That's not even apples and oranges. It's like apples and orangutans.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:58 AM on September 17, 2002


Amen, mathowie.

Now it looks like we're down to the real issue: whether the courts will continue to find the CleanFlicks voodoo legal.

I think they will.
posted by silusGROK at 11:00 AM on September 17, 2002


eyeballkid... you're missing the point: this isn't about artistic integrity, as the studio's already editing the films; it's about who's going to make money off the changes.

Tivo is a service that lets folks edit television -- and the television industry is furious.

CleanFlicks is a service that lets folks edit movies -- and the movie industry is furious.

The sad thing is that the television industry is making moves to address the issue by doing product placement and the like, and the movie industry is sitting on their collective thumb.
posted by silusGROK at 11:04 AM on September 17, 2002


Ahh yes, Utah. Lived there for three years, two of them in Logan, up in the gorgeous, pious mountains north of Salt Lake City.

When the movie "Snatch" came to town, they had to call it "The Great Diamond Heist" on the marquee lest someone be offended. (You get it, right? Snatch? Most locals wouldn't have, I guarantee.)

This in a college town (USU) of 22,000 students, with truly unbelievable outdoor recreation opportunities--and three bars, one (non-Mormon) bookstore, and one coffee shop.

Don't get me started.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:06 AM on September 17, 2002


A previous discussion on CleanFlicks includes some good points.

Google cache of a now-dead link
from the earlier discussion; it's a list of movies CleanFlicks won't edit, for whatever reason.

Vis10n - you make some good points. I'll admit I find the service automatically distasteful, but perhaps this case will advance the fair use cause.
posted by ungratefulninja at 11:07 AM on September 17, 2002


Wow

So does everybody who is railing against clean flicks out of concern for artistic integrity also advocate against Tivo or Replay's 30 second skip? It's the same thing - it changes the way the TV station intended their work would be seen. In fact, let's just get rid of the fast forward, rewind, pause and stop buttons too.

I see a lot of people whose opinions I generally respect, who seem to be opposed to clean flicks on the basis that these are just a bunch of uptight wankers who are trying to impose their morals.

They're only imposing their morals on themselves though, so really - what's the problem here? People go to clean flicks because they want to have their movies hacked up. They want to be protected from the nastier elements of society. I DON'T want that, but I don't want to be the one to tell them to take it or leave it either.

The studios are getting paid for the movies that are being sold or rented. Why do we you care that some sub-group of people would rather close their eyes at the scary parts?
posted by willnot at 11:10 AM on September 17, 2002


(feel free, then, not to get started, gottabefunky)

Ungratefulninja: I don't use the service myself, and find it somewhat distastefull for (probably) completely different reasons.

Of course, that's not the issue.

: )
posted by silusGROK at 11:12 AM on September 17, 2002


Movies. I love movies, but when I watch a movie, I take it for granted that the end product I end up seeing is not the optimal product originally envisioned by the director. A movie has to go through so many trials by fire before its completion, it's amazing to me that good movies are made at all. The above Scorcese example is a pretty nasty example. So, if a director, after the corporate sharks get done gnawing on what they're presented with still has a decent movie, doesn't it seem like adding insult to injury having these little puritanical parasites shit on it by further cutting it up?

Look, consider how many takes, how many hours of footage, how much time spent setting up perfect shots go into good movies. When you see a movie, a good movie, it's the distillation of a whole lot of time spent by a whole lot of people to make it perfect. Nothing is wasted, and nothing should be extraneous, even one "f-bomb". Anytime some puritan cuts scenes, or some network lops inches off the sides of the film so it can fit in a TV, that piece of art is further diminished.

Art to me is essentially communication between the artist and the viewer. Studio butchery makes it hard enough to hear a clear message from the writer or director or actor. I have to accept this, because without the studios, the movie wouldn't be made in the first place. Any other alterations made after the fact are not to be tolerated.
posted by picea at 11:13 AM on September 17, 2002


teach me to post after getting into a 30 minute meeting and not preview to make sure all of my points weren't totally covered.
posted by willnot at 11:14 AM on September 17, 2002


Hee hee hee... they won't touch Face/Off... how could they? The edit would need an edit! God bless John Woo and all of my braincells I happily allowed him to murder.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:15 AM on September 17, 2002


You should see their version of Man Bites Dog! It doubles as a head cleaner.
posted by basilwhite at 11:21 AM on September 17, 2002


With the power of the Hollywood studios, I don't see why they aren't going ahead (on at least a trial basis) and releasing the tame edits of their films to Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, or putting a second, edited version onto DVD releases which in many cases could be accomplished by simply doing an additional audio track and set of subtitles. If the "family friendly" edits were out there in the regular stores where people weren't required to have a time-based organization in order to get movies, the cost of the editing would pay for itself in additional rental revenues. CleanFlicks and Clean Cuts and the like would then be able to purchase pre-edited versions (which they could market solely, if they were standalone, or they could choose to only have DVDs with the edited versions included) which would keep them on the right side of the law and allow them to continue to advertise as "Clean Versions Only!"
posted by Dreama at 11:23 AM on September 17, 2002


selling scissors isn't the same thing as selling a cut-up magazine.
posted by hob at 11:29 AM on September 17, 2002


They're only imposing their morals on themselves though, so really - what's the problem here?

Yes, you do have a point here. I didn't really think it through. As long as the edits are not being marketed as the original.

I think I was a bit hasty to defend the artists, and didn't see the reality of the situation.
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:29 AM on September 17, 2002


I think the people who create the demand for this sort of thing are in denial. They want the world neatly whitewashed of "offensive" material, but at the same time, want to immerse themselves in pop culture that embraces things they find offensive. If you're offended by the sex scenes in Chocolat and don't want your children to see them, shouldn't you be offended by the whole concept behind Chocolat? Removing the sex scenes doesn't change the fact that the movie is largely about sex.

The business that provides the service, on the other hand, may be motivated by an earnest agreement with the hypocrisy of their clients or simple profit. They appear to have done a lot to cover their asses on the legal issues in advance, and while from an artistic sense their activities are distasteful, they are not vastly more reprehensable than the actions of the studios.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:43 AM on September 17, 2002


if the Sopranos was on PAX tv.

Actually, I understand that HBO is preparing a syndicated version of "The Sopranos", and that some scenes were even shot twice -- once for the regular version, and another for syndication. From what I hear, there'll be a whole lotta friggin' going on ...

So does everybody who is railing against clean flicks out of concern for artistic integrity also advocate against Tivo or Replay's 30 second skip? It's the same thing - it changes the way the TV station intended their work would be seen.

Uh, not quite. Commercials are not part of the program, and have nothing to do with whatever "artistic integrity" a television program might have (thin though it may be).
posted by chuq at 11:46 AM on September 17, 2002


Vis10n: Aw c'mon, just one more: this is the state where citizens sued a video store owner for distributing dirty movies that were against "community standards," until his lawyers pointed out that the local Marriott shows 3,000 in-room pr0n flicks a year, and that local cable and satellite TV companies distribute 20,000 a year (info here, scroll down to "Other Cases"). Needless to say, he got off.

It's the hypocrisy that burns me. The demand is there; they just don't want to admit it's there. Maybe we should give Utah back to the Native Americans. It's just so darn pretty though...
posted by gottabefunky at 11:47 AM on September 17, 2002


gottabefunky, this isn't about Utah, or Mormons, and neither were the cases you've described. You're making sweeping generalizations about an entire state and religion based upon the actions of a few people who've involved themselves in lawsuits. Stereotype much?
posted by Dreama at 11:56 AM on September 17, 2002


"this isn't about Utah, or Mormons, and neither were the cases you've described"

You don't actually believe that, right? Remember, Utah is the only state in the nation with a Porn Czar. It's not a coincidence that ninety-plus percent of the state legislature is Mormon, either.

There are stereotypes, and then there are facts.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:05 PM on September 17, 2002


Selling it or renting it creates a slightly thorny issue. Do video stores sign agreements when becoming distributors saying explicitly they can not modify the works

CleanFlicks doesn't rent the movies. When you want to use CleanFlicks' services, you joing a co-operative that owns a set number of movies that have been edited. You don't "rent" a movie... you check it out.



If that is indeed the case, and no duplication or distribution is going on, then I don't have an issue. (I don't necessarily agree, but I don't see any problem) If they are profiting from this activity through distribution, then I think that the studios have a valid argument.

To all those comparing this to TiVo/Replay- there is one major difference: TiVo and RePlay are not distributing the content, they are merely providing the technology to do so. And what the user does with it is squarely under fair use.


I see a lot of people whose opinions I generally respect, who seem to be opposed to clean flicks on the basis that these are just a bunch of uptight wankers who are trying to impose their morals.

Hey, as long as they're not illegaly distributing anything, they can do anything they want.
posted by tj at 12:18 PM on September 17, 2002


mr_crash_davis: thanks, beat me to it. Dreama, this is about Utah, and is about Mormons, who I am not implying are all the same. Cleanflicks is not run by Episcopalians in Minnesota, and this issue - a religious issue - is reflective of the supremely non-secular bent of the state. (The Porn Czar, BTW, is a self-professed virgin.)

Having said that, based in part on personal experience (yours...?), I do not mean to sound - and perhaps did, sorry - like I have some kind of vendetta. Utahns are in general a lot more pleasant that the residents of DC, where I just relocated. There we would joke that if you lost your wallet you'd get it back with more money in it. Here they bust car windows for kicks.

Stereotypes suck. Generalizations are a fact of life.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:19 PM on September 17, 2002


how is a parent using CleanFlicks to edit pre-packaged mass media different from someone using TiVo to skip commercials?

With TiVo, you're skipping the commercials, not altering the TV show itself. The TV equivalent of CleanFlicks would be to tape the show, edit it, and then distribute the cleaned up version.

What I want to know is, how is what CleanFlicks is doing different than me setting up this site, taking your comments and editing them to my taste, and distributing it as, say, MetaFilterClean?
posted by kirkaracha at 12:24 PM on September 17, 2002


The CleanFlicks edit of this thread.
posted by Hildago at 12:27 PM on September 17, 2002


Wow, my timing is brilliant!
posted by Hildago at 12:33 PM on September 17, 2002


that was obviously fair use
posted by tj at 12:34 PM on September 17, 2002


ok, upon closer inspection of the site, they have an option to buy the edited version.

I would think that they would have to send the original (since that is what they can charge for) along with their hacked up copy. (their site only states that they maintain a 1 to 1 ratio for rentals only - I know, it may be semantics - but that may be closer to the actual issue at hand.
posted by tj at 12:45 PM on September 17, 2002


"We think a jury will want to agree with us, that you shouldn't be required to watch what you find objectionable."

Also in the news: Read-Me-A-Bedtime-Story Publishing is releasing "cleaned up" versions of "American Psycho", "Story of O", and "Topping From Below".

Seriously, how would you feel if a company bought up copies of the latest best-seller and inked out all the "objectionable" situations, language, and characters, then resold the books? After all, you shouldn't be required to read what you find objectionable. This doesn't sound illegal (many stores sell used copies) but it does sound immoral to me.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:51 PM on September 17, 2002


RE: 'artistic integrity' and the points based on tenuous claims along the lines of "what the studios make isn't art" or "there are different versions already." I don't see why we have to focus on movies made by the big studios anyway. Where does it say that they don't buy independent films?

You're the director of a movie (or the DP or the AD or the stunt butt, whatever) and you've spent several months, or longer, working on this movie to which the studio owns the rights. You entered into that arrangement knowing that the studio would have the final say. You probably even knew that they would produced squeaky-clean versions for the networks, arilines, etc.

It would be appalling, though, to see people making a profit by altering your work with no permission from copyright holders. I don't see how that's fair use according to current employment of that term. I know they have a subscription-based rental service and all, but they are making money from bastardizing--or de-bastardizing, I guess--someone else's work. That's how it is different from the MetaFilterClean alalogy.

What if it wasn't making content "safe for families"? Everyone OK with boutiques offering different, "improved" visions of recent movies for profit without permission from the people that own or created the work? I know, the Jar-Jar-free version of Phantom Menace was a great idea and all, but I think we'd have to change the framework of copyright enforcement if this were an acceptable commercial practice. (Maybe that's a good thing... I'm just sain'.)

And I guess it would be alright if they gave bound xeroxes of your book to members of their 'co-op.' "Hey, don't worry about all those whited-out passages... they sucked!"
posted by sj at 12:54 PM on September 17, 2002


Here's another thought: what if a company (say... Skin Head Rentals) edited out all people of color except for villains? Would that be acceptable?

And how far do we allow this to go? If you buy a copy of a movie does that allow you to digitally insert whatever you want? Change the dialog? Change the ending? Add nudity? After reading Metafilter for some time, I am pretty sure there is a large market for The All Brittany Movie Rentals.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:02 PM on September 17, 2002


Hildago-

I can't believe you left in fishf**ker! I am offended! I cannot endorse your service!
posted by dogwelder at 1:14 PM on September 17, 2002


And how far do we allow this to go?

This is one of the central questions of the Internet, I think. If you take someone's software and modify it and then upload it for all your friends to download, how is that different than creating a library of custom-edited video tapes?
posted by hob at 1:18 PM on September 17, 2002


There's been a lot of discussion here about artistic integrity (as if all those involved in what a movie looks like are artists - quite often, management, marketers, etc. make a lot of the decisions). If I bought a CD, am I obligated to listen to all 16 tracks because to not do so would otherwise ruin the artists intent? Must works of art be forced down our throats whole? Will there be an art police making sure I watch an entire DVD or listen to an entire CD every time I pop it into my player? Isn't this just the polar opposite of the Taliban?
posted by laz-e-boy at 1:18 PM on September 17, 2002


Suppose I buy a copy of a book. I can mark up that copy however I want: black out or highlight offensive scenes, draw cartoons in the margin, whatever. I can loan my marked up copy to all my friends and still stay within the boundaries of copyright law. I can even create and sell a book of my cartoons, using short quotes from the original book as captions. All of that is legal and within the bounds of fair use. (At least as it was understood before DMCA and its children.)

So if CleanFlicks is buying one copy of a movie, creating a single edited copy, and sharing it within a circle of friends, they're fine. (Although they won't be if Hollywood is able to change the copyright law to suit itself.) I support their right to do that, even though I would probably disagree with their changes.

What I *can't* do is take my copy of the book down to my local Kinko's, run off a few dozen or a few hundred duplicates, and sell those. That's always been copyright infringement whether my copy of the book is marked up or not, and whether I'm selling the copies to the general public, to friends, or to students in a class that I teach.

If CleanFlicks is buying one copy, editing it, then burning a fresh DVD of the edited version for every member who wants one, then they've thrown off the warm blanket of fair use and leapt into the frigid waters of copyright infringement. Where I hope they freeze to death.

Legally, artistic integrity has nothing to do with it. If I don't own the copyright, then I can't redistribute *any* version of the movie, including the original. If I do own the copyright, I can hack it into as many different versions as the market will tolerate.
posted by kewms at 1:21 PM on September 17, 2002


Everyone OK with boutiques offering different, "improved" visions of recent movies for profit without permission from the people that own or created the work

Well, I like what Disney did with Snow White, and I've come to appreciate the loops that sample artists incorporate into their music. To address Hob's point above about selling scissors versus a hacked up magazine, I think the Dadaists may have something to say about the value of hacking up magazines - often to convey a point that is the polar opposite of the original intent.

I appreciate creativity of all kinds. Also, while I think these guys are advocating safe and mundane versus creative, if they're only doing it to their own stuff, then they have less reason to lobby big content to remove it for everybody's benefit. So yeah, in whole or in part, I think i'd be OK with that.
posted by willnot at 1:36 PM on September 17, 2002


And how far do we allow this to go? If you buy a copy of a movie does that allow you to digitally insert whatever you want? Change the dialog? Change the ending? Add nudity? After reading Metafilter for some time, I am pretty sure there is a large market for The All Brittany Movie Rentals.

Even simpler concept--can one legally re-edit a film using the deleted scenes? What if I used some extra footage/deleted scenes from a DVD to make a new "Extended" version? Legal or not?

Sorry if I am obsessing over symantics, but it just seems crazy to me that an artist's vision could be edited by anyone who pays to purchase a copy, and then re-sold to the public.
posted by senorbunch at 1:45 PM on September 17, 2002


senorbunch: It seems crazy to me that an artist can (under the law) place restrictions on what the consumer does with a copy they have paid for and ostensibly own.

Screw the artist's vision. Why is the consumer's vision any less valid?
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:03 PM on September 17, 2002


I hate what CleanFlicks is doing, and I think that their customers have a disturbing problem, but I doubt it's illegal. Mathowie asks the integral questions above in terms of exactly what laws are being violated.

Most directors don't have "final cut" anyway, i.e. final say over what version of the movie goes to theatres, or even onto tape or DVD for that matter. The studio usually out-and-out owns the movie, and they do with it what they want. So part of the question is, what kind of rights does the studio give to the rental distribution companies, and what kind of rights do those companies have the freedom (or the compulsion) to pass on to rental outlets or libraries who buy from them?

kirkaracha is right on about the difference between this and Tivo editing out commercials. The "art" is not the full hour of TV including the commercials, it's the show...and the company that owns the show...let alone the company that makes the show, which is not always the same...doesn't get to choose which commercials are shown with it in most cases. This goes back to the "three blind mice" days of NBC, ABC, and CBS oligarchy, when TV networks really didn't make anything; they just bought product and put it on the air.

As far as the Farenheit 451 scenario and the altering of printed fiction; I share the distaste of those who discuss it above, but there are such things as abridged versions of novels, and inevitably, editing them for "easier reading" leads to editing them for controversial content along the way. Whether or not this can happen is again about the rights that the author gives to the publishing house in the original contract, and the rights that they then give away to others.

The only cut-and-dried legal issue here would be if CleanFlicks was pretending to be offering the film in its original form, and they aren't. Then again...

Dreama, Blockbuster has already been getting flack for editing some of the movies they offer in order to keep the balance between offering everything popular, and maintaining a "family" image. I don't have time to find a link now, but maybe someone else has it, or I can do it later.

I feel similar about this to how I feel about pan-scan ("full screen") versions of movies; I'd like it better if they weren't even available, but it's not up to me to decide, and I think the solution is in educating the public about the value of watching the movie you've heard about, or a movie that's been altered by someone who had nothing to do with the original (or even secondary) creative process.

And there ARE plenty of DVDs that offer multiple versions. Sometimes, as in the case of Storytelling, you're getting a version on DVD that is actually closer (though still not identical, sadly) to the one the director wanted to put in theatres to begin with.

on preview: sonofsamiam: It seems crazy to me that an artist can (under the law) place restrictions on what the consumer does with a copy they have paid for and ostensibly own.

The artist can't place restrictions on what you do with your personal copy, that you have no intention to make money from. However, purchasing a copy of a movie does not mean you are purchasing all the intellectual and resale rights to that movie.
posted by bingo at 2:14 PM on September 17, 2002


Assuming that CleanFlicks has not broken any copyright laws, and just looking at the concept of the service, I'm glad that it's out there.

It's something that my mom verbally wished for many times as I was growing up, not only for me but for herself as well. Believe it or not, she doesn't like graphic violence in movies. Call it puritanical repression or what you will, she just doesn't feel the need to experience it. However, there's still a lot of movies out there that look interesting to her. She would like to watch them, and does, but if there's a way to watch them sans violence, she would no doubt avail herself of it.

If I were a parent, I would probably use the service too. It'd be nice to sit down and watch a film with the whole family, all ages included, without having to worry about exposing my children to something that I'm not ready for them to learn about. That would be my right as a parent. I think that the fact that the Iron Giant was edited just shows how far Hollywood has come in regards to childrens movies. My guess is that it was probably offensive language. Yes, I think little to nothing about the word "shit" being used in front of me, but that all changes if there's a five year old in the vicinity. When movies like that come out, they are hyped like mad to the children they are marketed to, and of course the kids are going to want to see it, even if it's meant for a slightly older audience.

I believe that there are many instances where sex and violence are plot devices, and applaud them as such. Currently, I have no need for the Clean Flicks service, but I can foresee a time in my life when it would be very nice to have around.
posted by redsparkler at 2:25 PM on September 17, 2002


We've been discussing ways to redistribute an edited version of a work. What if there were programmable DVD players so that it took the input of the DVD and a program and played the DVD in the order the program's creator saw fit (skipping nudity, profanity, adding deleted scenes or whatever).

You still have the artist's intent issue but I really don't think that is a legal liability. You are also not modifying any physical item from the studio.
posted by mmascolino at 2:27 PM on September 17, 2002


I heard about this story on NPR's All Things Considered driving home from work yesterday. Here's a link to the story where you can listen. In the piece they play one or two clips demonstrating how some of the cuts take place.
posted by misterioso at 2:38 PM on September 17, 2002


This is old news.

The company wants to make cash off lazy parents. Get off your butts...watch the film and if you don't want your kids to watch it...don't let them. Simple.

There are plenty of films out there for parents who don't want their children to see (1) nudity (2) violence (3) sex or throwrugs. The parent just has to go to the trouble to do some research.

If you want squeaky clean films do it the hard way -- make them yourself.
posted by ?! at 3:11 PM on September 17, 2002


I didn't see it mentioned anywhere but the Dove Foundation is already working with the studios to provide 'edited for family viewing' versions of movies. The main issue with what Clean Flicks does is the editing and selling without consent of the studios. Purchasing and editing the work for the consumer is modification and redistribution. If they were to work with the studios and become an authorized editing outlet that would be fine. If they only ran an editing service then I can see the grey area, but when it comes to the membership service, this doesn't fly:
MyCleanFlicks is a Co-operative rental club. All subscribers to our service become members of the Co-op. The Co-op collectively purchases original, unedited DVD movies then has them edited - always maintaining a 1 to 1 ratio of edited and non-edited originals.

As owners of the original, unedited movies, the Co-op has the right to edit out content that is objectionable to its members - similar to how you might press mute to avoid hearing objectionable language today. Accordingly, you must subscribe as a member of the rental club before you can rent edited movies.
That is purchase for public use, and if Clean Flicks finds a legal foothold for this, it opens doors for such things as libraries editing its books and videos for content.

The argument that the studios already allow edited versions of their products doesn't hold up because these are authorized edited versions. Clean Flicks is clearly not acting within 'Fair Use' rights.
posted by mikhail at 3:17 PM on September 17, 2002


I always find censorship a fitting topic on Constitution Day!
posted by culberjo at 3:25 PM on September 17, 2002


One consideration that is possibly being overlooked (I admit to skimming the thread) is the difference between editing a VHS tape and a DVD.

A videotape can be purchased and physically edited, at that point the movie studio has gotten their revenue and there probably isn't even a problem renting it (depending on the stores agreement with it's distributor).

On the other hand editing a DVD requires making a copy and very clearly falls under 'unauthorized reproduction'.
posted by cedar at 3:27 PM on September 17, 2002


I'm totally opposed to Clean Flicks deciding what's dirty and what's clean. I’m in the film and television business and I do shows for cable and feature films. We largely are free of censorship though we can’t show hard penises for some reason. But we’re free to fuck and, well, anything we want--and we're free to show nudity.

On the other hand, it’s routine practice to shoot scenes for the "Free TV Version." We pull the sheets up over a love scene or put underwear on an actor who’s naked in the original. It on other words, it becomes the same as the other mundane crap on Network TV. But all movies and cable shows create these alternate versions. That is what the Soprano’s producers are doing and Six Feet Under and even Sex In the City. These free TV versions mostly end up on foreign TV and sometimes Bravo. None of us like but our contracts require it and in some places that’s all they see, until it’s released on home video.

We don’t release versions of the Free TV version on Home Video. The bottom line is that TV and Film are businesses first and art second. That said, we are at least applying our own standards to these versions so they aren't as offensive as some Mormon or Christian dickhead deciding that two men kissing is dirty or saying “Oh Gosh” is better than saying “Oh, God.” (Using God’s name in vain.)

This lawsuit hasn’t got a prayer because it’s not “fair use.” The rub is the rental and sale of these products.
posted by TeejNSF at 4:17 PM on September 17, 2002


cedar, how do you edit a videotape without copying it? if you isolate the objectionable bit and cut it out with a razorblade and splice the tape back together, you'll get one godawful-looking edit, with a loss of video sync and other problems. All the video editing I know of (since the days of 2" quad transverse-scan tape, but I digress) is done by copying selectively from one tape to another. (or by digitizing -- copying -- it and then making one's edits on a computer-based system.)
posted by Vidiot at 4:20 PM on September 17, 2002


parents who don't want their children to see (1) nudity (2) violence (3) sex or throwrugs

Throwrugs?

Oh I can see it now-- The Interior Designer's Rental Co-Op.
Motto: You'll never have to see another objectionable davenport!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:17 PM on September 17, 2002


The company wants to make cash off lazy parents. Get off your butts...watch the film and if you don't want your kids to watch it...don't let them. Simple.

In the viewpoint of these people, you're suggesting in many instances that they throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I remember my nephew telling me about a movie being shown in the student union of his college, a private, conservative Christian school in the midwest. The movie was the 80s John Cusack flick Better Off Dead. In one scene, a girl had her cheerleading uniform ripped off, leaving her standing in her bra and panties for about five seconds. Someone sat right by the large screen tv and when that happened, they held a big white posterboard in front of the girl that said "Oops!" The student union could've chosen to not show the movie, but they decided that five seconds of awkwardness wasn't worth discarding 90 minutes of otherwise cute, funny movie. While it's beyond my understanding (especially in the collegiate setting where, presumably, everyone had seen women in underwear before) that's the kind of mindset that would happily embrace the Clean Flicks service.

I'm not even going to touch the whole issue of the Utah/Mormon generalizations. I still find it gratuitous, especially since I know a lot of people outside of Utah who are the furthest thing from Mormons who would join Clean Flicks in a heartbeat.
posted by Dreama at 5:45 PM on September 17, 2002


Hildago: The CleanFlicks edit of this thread.

G*t your o** *lo* f**kw**.
/joke
posted by eddydamascene at 7:00 PM on September 17, 2002


Clearly, there is nothing more moral than a bunch of dirty thieves.
posted by rushmc at 8:37 PM on September 17, 2002


Heh - just thought, this is like a v-chip. Or Movie Mask Player

Interesting quotes from that particular thread...

EyeballKid I'd be interested in a filter that removed Jake Lloyd, Jar Jar Binks, Ewoks and the rest of Leia's bikini.

Hildago God damn it, you don't get to pick and choose what you want to see in a movie!
posted by seanyboy at 1:05 AM on September 18, 2002


redsparkler: I think that the fact that the Iron Giant was edited just shows how far Hollywood has come in regards to childrens movies. My guess is that it was probably offensive language. Yes, I think little to nothing about the word "shit" being used in front of me, but that all changes if there's a five year old in the vicinity.

There was nothing that could possibly be construed as "offensive language" in Iron Giant, by the most mud-brained puritan on Earth. The word "shit" is not uttered once. What do you mean, "how far Hollywood has come in regards to children's movies"? You mean they're actually starting to make good ones again? Or that they don't operate on the assumption that being young is the same as being stupid?
posted by bingo at 1:39 AM on September 18, 2002


Home Sweet Home-Diddily-Dum-Doodily
Ned: Well, I guess a little television won't hurt. I used to let the boys watch "My Three Sons" but it got them all worked up before bedtime.
The kids assemble themselves before the TV…The I&S theme music begins and the screen shows the title: "Foster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!"...As usual, Bart and Lisa love it. Rod and Todd, however, are pale and shaky.
Rod: Daddy, what's the red stuff coming out of kitty's ears?
Ned: Uh, that's, that's just, er, raspberry jam.
Todd: Dad, should I poke Rod with a sharp thing like the mouse did?
Ned: No, son. No sirree, bob.

posted by gottabefunky at 9:19 AM on September 18, 2002


In regards to the Iron Giant, a website I just looked it up on said was that there were "unnecessary mild profanities". Another site stated "and nearly a dozen mild profanities ." I had remembered a couple people talking about it in that context when it came out, so I just picked an epithet at random for my post. Apologies.

I think the Iron Giant was a stunnning movie, visually and conceptually. It catered to my tastes exceedingly well. Unfortunately, I watched it with friends, and thus had my radar dropped to the point where I didn't notice any material that may have pushed the limits of what could be considered objectionable to kids.

When I said that it was a sign of how far Hollywood has come, i meant that in the knowledge that the Iron Giant was a solid, well-crafted film for children that still had to be rated PG. Why not G? Why not go the extra step to make it a film for everyone?

I can see both sides of the story, especially when it comes to plot elements of a story meant to convince viewers of a villain's nature. That seems to be when swearing, violence, etc get tossed into the mix. Should children be sheltered from all the bad in the world? Yes and no. It's different for everyone, and I think if a family decides that they could hold off on the negative influences for a while, and a company has quietly found a way to meet that need, there should be no objection (as long as the company is within the proper legal boundaries.).
posted by redsparkler at 11:40 AM on September 18, 2002


When I said that it was a sign of how far Hollywood has come, i meant that in the knowledge that the Iron Giant was a solid, well-crafted film for children that still had to be rated PG. Why not G? Why not go the extra step to make it a film for everyone?

There was no gratuitous profanity in the film. It wasn't thrown together slap-dash fashion and presented as two hours of pretty pictures. Everything serves a purpose, even the profanity.

You admit it's a well-crafted movie, so why tinker with the craftsmanship? Brad Bird fought a lot of battles with the studio to make an animated movie, as opposed to a cartoon. It's ironic that people completely miss the point and want to edit it down to be more like a traditional Warner Brothers or Disney feature.
posted by Hildago at 12:31 PM on September 18, 2002


A rated PG film is for everyone, legally. Kids don't need their parent's permission to buy a ticket.

Now that I've spent some time thinking about it, I guess there was a point when the villain says something like "screw the country," which I guess might meet some standard of "mild profanity" in a community still locked in the 19th century.

Part of what's so brilliant about the Iron Giant is the juxtaposition between the cartoonish 50s conservatism and the complexity of the story itself. The people are living in a cartoon world, but they are real people with believable personalities. The good guys have flaws and the bad guys have their good moments. The images of the cartoon 50s kids watching a grainy cartoon film about how to "duck-and-cover" in event of a nuclear attack is disturbing, and it's supposed to be, and it's that sort of play that makes the movie good.
posted by bingo at 9:30 PM on September 18, 2002


I'm not attacking the Iron Giant in any way. I thought it was excellent, I promise. Pinky swear.
posted by redsparkler at 12:55 AM on September 19, 2002


To go off on a different line, there's a NYTimes article today about the lawsuit and various CleanFlicks-style companies. The scary part comes at the very end, though.

MovieMask, which makes software that can filter out different levels of offensiveness on DVDs, has "just signed a contract with a product-placement company to insert products into existing films, perhaps even region by region." I'm glad we're getting closer to everyone in the movie drinking <my beverage of choice>.
posted by ungratefulninja at 6:31 AM on September 19, 2002


« Older Some Good News for a Tuesday   |   Hispanic Heritage Month Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post